I read a diary defending Religion against Atheism, which ironically attacked Polytheism. No one really defends Polytheism, except in theory. Because atheists, who do most of the debating against Christians, don't really have a stake in it. But Polytheism is part of my culture, and my ancestors sacrificed their own blood to protect it. This is why, I think I have an interesting perspective on this whole debate. I am sometimes extremely religious, and sometimes extremely atheistic. Let me tell you what I mean.
I am a Hindu, raised by conservative Hindu parents, and living as a minority in America. My parents have sown in me a sense of national pride for my culture and history. It's not meant as a sign of superiority over anyone, just a matter of protectiveness and self-preservation, something conservative Christians can relate to. So, that understanding gives me great leverage in debate.
In debate, I am religious, sometimes virulently so. When a conservative Christian thinks he or she is superior to me because of my religion, I point out that as a Hindu, I am not any more immoral than you are. I don't lie any more than you do. I have just as many friends as most Americans do. So how dare they attack you religion, when you hate it that atheists attack yours? That defensiveness you have when an atheist attacks you, is the same defensiveness I feel when you attack me.
I also use Hinduism as a defense against those conservatives who want religion in public schools. The Constitution gave me the freedom to practice my religion. Why the hell should I pay a single penny of my tax dollars so that you can teach YOUR religion? If you don't want secularism in school, fine! But I want to spend my tax dollars the way I see fit, so I want to teach Hinduism as the true religion in schools, and if you want to teach that as well, we have a deal, let's bring religion into the schools! If you don't agree we have an impasse, and we can settle for secularism in public schools.
It's a good argument because Christians hate atheists. They feel that atheists impose their lack of belief on the Christian by forcing a lack of belief in public schools, so they get defensive. But my argument shows an impasse. I want to teach my religion, and you want to teach yours. Let's just teach neither using tax payer money and call it a day. This argument has humbled quite a few conservatives.
But I'm also virulently atheistic when I clash with my father. He is anti-gay. And he is anti-gay on moral, and religious grounds. Furthermore, my religion treated women inferiorly for a long time. We also treated untouchables poorly. While, my father is very progressive in these two criteria, I still use them as an argument against religion and Hinduism.
And there is the reason why I am both religious and atheistic depending on the circumstance. When someone with an absurd point of view (conservative christianity) is attacking my absurd point of view (conservative Hinduism) I protect my ideas, because those ideas are attached to a long history and culture. But if a better idea is replacing my absurd idea (like science and secularism) I support that. Because history and culture has no value, when our lives aren't improving. I will readily sacrifice those, when something better is replacing it. My father doesn't like that...
But at the same time, I have no problems with the religious when they don't try to impose their ideas on others. When a doctor has to see sick kids die, and she finds that believing in God allows her to get up in the morning to keep going. Go ahead. You do that.
But don't tell my my religion is inferior. Because then, you don't have the right to say that atheists are attacking you and that you are a victim.